When Mpumalanga Black Aces product Bradley Cross left Bidvest Wits two years ago he would have never thought that he would end up harnessing his talent at some of the world’s best academies and development structures.
The 19-year-old centre back recently finished a two-year stay at former German Bundesliga champions Schalke where he was on loan from Bidvest Wits. After a trial with Go Ahead Eagles in the Netherlands the defender then went across the continent to trial with English Premier League side Newcastle United where he impressed and signed a contract that will keep him at the club until 2022.
Fourteen days after his arrival in the squad the South African youth international was surprisingly given the captain’s armband by U23 coach Chris Hogg who has since heaped praise on the South African.
“He’s a well-rounded character who made a good impression with everyone in terms of how he has behaved and how he conducts himself. We’re delighted to have him and look forward to developing his game and seeing how far we can take him. To be fair though he has more experience than most players in the development squad,” said Hogg.
It is amazing that Cross has been able to apply himself so well since arriving in England, having played 90 minutes in all the games since making his debut against Fulham.
The model in Newcastle allows synergy between the senior team coaches and the reserve team coaches which puts Cross in a good position to be called to the club’s first team where he can be assessed by coach Steve Bruce in the near future.
On Monday the young ‘Magpies’ host Norwich City in an English Premier League 2 encounter and the defender is expected to be one of the first names in the coach’s starting line-up. Cross was also expected to be one of the players called up to the South African U20 national team for the upcoming COSAFA Cup regional tournament in Port Elizabeth, but due to England being on lock-down level 2 chances of him being in the team are very slim.
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By Prince Sobayeni